I work at St. Paul Catholic School and teach students in Grades 6, 7, & 8. When my colleagues and I were planning for online teaching, we reflected on the skills that each of us has. The one with the most knowledge of technology volunteered to set up the learning platform that students would use. I offered to do the Daily Journal and Reflection lessons for our Religion classes. The other colleague offered to assist with teaching teachers how to use different programs.
As an educator, my philosophy is that I am a learner among learners. However, I never imagined I would need to learn so much in what seemed such a short time. I also did not expect that I would get to know my co-workers in their vulnerability, their humility, their deep faith, and their openness to find solutions to the challenges of teaching in a low socioeconomic Catholic school.
Since the school was unable to provide teachers with laptops to teach, many of the teachers borrowed computers from friends and family. We have learned to share devices and troubleshoot malfunctions. Many of our students did not have devices nor access to internet connections, so several teachers found donors or people to lend devices.
For three and a half months, my classroom was an empty upstairs bedroom in our community house. For me and the other two teachers in the middle school, it was our first experience teaching online. We learned many things during this time.
Many times, when I felt overwhelmed or fatigued from the long hours, I thought of what Angelique Le Sourd, our foundress, would have done amid so many unknowns: continue with audacity. I thought of our Sisters, who left Canada or France, to come to the mission lands in the USA often serving with few resources and having to learn new languages. They took risks in order to serve in the spirit of Angelique
The next school year begins on August 17. Parents have been given the choice to send the children to school or keep them at home for virtual live streamed classes. There are very few professionals among our parents, so they do not have the opportunity to work from home. Yet, they want a faith-based education for their children.
Teachers will be returning to teach on the campus. We will live stream classes for those students on campus and those in their homes. At the age of 67, I am the oldest teacher on the campus and am fearful of getting the COVID virus. One of the teachers told me that she knew I would return because I have the courage and resourcefulness to face challenging situations. I continue with the person of Angelique by my side reminding me that God’s love needs to continue to be revealed in every reality, especially when there is pain and suffering.
“The mission of our Institute … is to make known, particularly to the poor, the tenderness and mercy of the Father revealed in Jesus.” CC. 4
Sister Juana Villescas, Texas